What Is a Dash Cam? – A Great Way To Protect Yourself

You’ve probably heard the word dash cam and wondered: “What is a dash cam?” The simplest answer I can give you is it’s a specialized camera designed to mount on your windshield and record the events that happen while you’re driving.

What Makes a Dash Camera Different From Other Cameras?

Dash cams are designed to record and save film footage continuously. To do this, they will typically save footage at set intervals, such as 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, etc. and save these recordings to a microSD card that is inserted into the dash cam.

When the microSD card gets full, the dash camera will start to overwrite the oldest files on the microSD card. However, there are certain exceptions to what I just stated.

First, most dash cams will give you the option to not overwrite the oldest file when the microSD card is out of space. In this scenario, the dash cam simply stops saving footage and will give you some type of indication that the memory card is full.

Obviously, this is not ideal if you’re using it to catch footage in the event of an accident, but might be useful if you’re trying to capture footage from a cross-country road trip.

Second, dash cams typically have a button that lets you write protect recordings. If something of interest happens, then you simply press the button and the recording is write-protected, meaning the dash cam will not overwrite the file if the microSD card is full. The file is usually moved to a different folder that identifies it as being write-protected.

Other ways that dash cameras differ from other cameras is in the way that they are powered. Dash cams are designed to be powered by your car while you’re driving. This means they have a continuous source of power while you’re driving and in some instances can even remain powered on while your car is turned off with a feature known as Parking Mode.

This means they won’t suddenly run out of battery power like you would say if you were just using your phone to record what is happening.

Yet still another way that differentiates dash cams from other cameras is they’re designed to withstand high temperatures of your car. While I admit there are still plenty of heating issues with dash cams, they’re probably less prevalent than other cameras you might try to use with your car.

Why It’s a Good Idea to Use a Dash Cam

Provide a Record of What Happened in an Accident

It seems like people are becoming worse at driving with each passing year or at least it seems like that to me. Using a dash cam will give you video evidence of what happened in a car crash.

This means you can prove that you were not at fault in the crash and potentially save you a lot of headaches and liability from being wrongfully assigned at fault in a crash.

Protect Against Insurance Scams

A dash cam can even protect you from people trying to pull all sorts of car insurance scams.

A guy I worked with a few years back told me he was driving through a parking lot and a woman started yelling and he stopped to find out what she was yelling about. She claimed he hit her car, which he had not done, and insisted on him giving her his insurance information.

She filed a claim with his insurance company and his insurance company paid it out because they didn’t want to deal with her. If he had a dash cam, then it would have been an open-and-shut case proving he didn’t hit her car.

She wouldn’t have gotten a payout from his insurance company and he wouldn’t have taken a hit on his insurance rates due to her fraudulent claim being approved.

Prove Someone Reversed Into You

Another scenario where a dash cam is invaluable is if someone backs into your car with their car.

Lets say you’re at a driver through and all of a sudden the car in front of you reverses into your car. When you call the police and/or insurance companies do you think they’re going to be more likely to believe that the car in front of you reversed into you or that you hit the car in front of you?

My money is on them believing that you hit the car in front of you. Why? Well, because it’s hard to believe that someone would be that stupid to reverse into another car, but unfortunately there are people out there driving who do exactly that.

If these scenarios aren’t enough to motivate you to buy a dash camera, then spend sometime on https://reddit.com/r/idiotsincars watching videos. You’ll quickly realize that there are a lot of scenarios where you can’t avoid an accident by being a defensive driver and a dash cam is worth its weight in gold, and then some, in these instances.

Common Features of Dash Cameras

I lightly touched on what makes a dash camera different from other cameras in the first section, but I wanted to briefly overview some common features you’ll find in dash cameras on the market:

  • Battery-powered: Some dash cams have internal batteries. These are usually not recommended because they don’t do too well in the heat.
  • Capacitors: These dash cams have a capacitor that gives the dash cam enough power to save the current recording to the microSD card before it powers off. These are recommended since they don’t have issues with the battery swelling since they have no battery.
  • Parking mode: Lets the dash cam record, even when the car is off.
  • WIFI: Lets you change settings via your phone instead of using menu items on the LCD screen. This can be buggy, but it’s also useful for its live view feature which can help you when you’re installing the dash cam by making sure the dash cam is positioned where you want it.
  • Microphone: Most dash cams have microphones that record audio and will give you the option to mute them. A lot of people like to have the microphone enabled to let them call out the license plate number of a car, in case the dash cam doesn’t catch a clear enough image of the license plate.
  • GPS: Some dash cams have GPS that will record the GPS coordinates of your car and show how fast you’re going. I’ve heard of instances where it shows someone moving when they’re stopped, so I opt not to include my speed in the dash cam footage.
  • Resolution: Dash cams will typically let you change the resolution that they’re recording in. I recommend setting your dash cam to the highest resolution possible to maximize your chance of catching a license plat in the event of a hit-and-run.
  • EV: Dash cams will typically let you modify the Exposure Value settings. I really don’t mess with this myself. I really don’t like to change a bunch of settings right before I drive. I think it’s definitely a weakness in some dash cams.

My Favorite Reason to Use a Dash Cam

My absolute favorite reason to use a dash cam is to document and share all the crazy, wild, interesting things I see happen on the road. Like I said, it seems like people are becoming worse drivers every year which means there are a lot of crazy antics that I see while driving.

Just yesterday I saw a guy in a pickup truck driver around railroad crossing arms that were down because he was tired of waiting. It just amazes me the things people do on the public roadways.


To summarize, a dash cam is a specialized camera that is optimized to record what is happening on the road while you’re driving. They’re good to have in the event of an accident because they can prove you were not at fault. They’re also good for recording events that didn’t cause an accident, but you want to share with others.

Please leave any comments or questions and I’ll be sure to get back to you.

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